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Does Labor Legislation Benefit Workers? Well-Being after an Hours Reduction

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  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    () (Barnard College)

  • Kawaguchi, Daiji

    () (University of Tokyo)

  • Lee, Jungmin

    () (Seoul National University)

Abstract

Are workers in modern economies working "too hard" – would they be better off if an equilibrium with fewer work hours were achieved? We examine changes in life satisfaction of Japanese and Koreans over a period when hours of work were cut exogenously because employers suddenly faced an overtime penalty that had become effective with fewer weekly hours per worker. Using repeated cross sections we show that life satisfaction in both countries may have increased relatively among those workers most likely to have been affected by the legislation. The same finding is produced using Korean longitudinal data. In a household model estimated over the Korean cross-section data we find some weak evidence that a reduction in the husband's work hours increased his wife's well-being. Overall these results are consistent with the claim that legislated reductions in work hours can increase workers' happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2014. "Does Labor Legislation Benefit Workers? Well-Being after an Hours Reduction," IZA Discussion Papers 8077, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8077
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    1. repec:bla:worlde:v:40:y:2017:i:9:p:1708-1717 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. O'Donnell, Gus & Oswald, Andrew J., 2015. "National well-being policy and a weighted approach to human feelings," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 59-70.
    3. Kamila Cygam-Rehm & Christoph Wunder, 2018. "Do Working Hours Affect Health? Evidence from Statutory Workweek Regulations in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 967, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Berniell, Maria Ines & Bietenbeck, Jan, 2017. "The Effect of Working Hours on Health," IZA Discussion Papers 10524, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Gerritsen, Aart, 2016. "Optimal taxation when people do not maximize well-being," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 122-139.
    6. Takahashi, Ana Maria, 2016. "Job stress in Japanese academia: The role of relative income, time allocation by task, and children," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 12-17.
    7. Dräger, Vanessa, 2015. "Do Employment Protection Reforms Affect Well-Being?," IZA Discussion Papers 9114, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Joel Mokyr & Chris Vickers & Nicolas L. Ziebarth, 2015. "The History of Technological Anxiety and the Future of Economic Growth: Is This Time Different?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 31-50, Summer.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    rat-race; overtime work; happiness;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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